Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time

Unmuzzled: Former Thoroughbred Breeder Exposes Horse Racing Abuse In Tell-All Book

October 30, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

When Michigan native Jo Anne Normile entered a granddaughter of Secretariat into racing in 1995, she thought the “Sport of Kings” was all about custom hats, mint juleps, shiny trophies and a blanket of red roses thrown over a gleaming horse. Soon after, however, she learned the truth – that racing is $40 billion gambling industry disguised as a sport – an industry that discards spent horses the way a casino trashes a bent deck of cards.

Jo Anne with Baby at one year old

Jo Anne with Baby at one year old

In 1991, before she became a racehorse breeder and owner, Normile was looking after a horse for a breeder. When the horse gave birth in her barn, Normile had to resuscitate the newborn, who wasn’t breathing. The life-affirming experience moved her to adopt the foal and name him Baby. A year later, Scarlett – the granddaughter of Secretariat – was born in the same barn stall. Both were sent to the track.

Three years later, after Baby shattered his leg on a racetrack due to negligence of the track owners, Normile came to a harsh realization: “When you mix animals and money, the animals will always lose.” And she asked herself, “How I can support racing? The horses spend 23 hours a day in their stalls. Injured horses are forced to run. Drugging and death are rampant. And the finish line is too often a slaughterhouse!” She immediately pulled Scarlett off the track – forever. She says that 15,000 to 20,000 Thoroughbreds are sent to slaughter every year, and many of them are loaded into trailers by kill buyers right behind the tracks.

In her book, SAVING BABY, Normile gives an uncensored account of what happens behind the scenes at the track and chronicles her journey from race to rescue. “When I learned that the abuse and neglect at my own track were endemic to the industry and watched owners sell their supposedly beloved horses for pennies on the pound, I decided to take my fight into the halls of government. After much stonewalling, I resolved to take it to the streets with this book. I want people to know the fate of the horses they watch race.”

Saving Baby

In addition to writing SAVING BABY and lobbying government officials, Normile, as part of her about-face, founded CANTER, a rescue group that, under her leadership, collected more than 4,000 “used up” thoroughbreds at the tracks and transported them to save havens. Today, she gives speeches on the truth about racing at equine events across the country. And she co-founded a new rescue, Saving Baby Equine Charity that rescues all equines at risk.

Jo Anne and Scarlett

Jo Anne and Scarlett

Your Turn

Now available in hardcover, Saving Baby can be purchased at bookstores and online. Readers contribute to the rescue of horses because a portion of proceeds from the sale of every book goes to her new rescue, SAVING BABY EQUINE CHARITY.

To stay apprised of efforts to expose and end horse racing in the United States, please “like” Horseracing Wrongs on Facebook.


Comments via Facebook Comments

  1. Jena says:

    I would love to get my hands on a copy of Saving Baby. Animal exposes are among my favorite reads and I’d be thrilled to include a review in my blog.

  2. Susan LeBourgeois says:

    I quit watching horse racing a number of years ago: I no longer wanted to witness the evidence of young horses being destroyed for profit on the racetrack.

    Saving Baby has the power to change the views of those who are still wearing blinders to the horrors of the sport. I would love to have a copy to share with my friends and family.

  3. Bethe says:

    Every discipline within the equine industry has abuse; abuse is in the eye of the beholder. $$$$ is at the root of every equine discipline and the horse is the vehicle. But, there are some good race trainers, jump trainers, dressage trainers, eventing trainers who train with their heart–they are poor as churchmice. Compassion must be at the forefront of every horsewoman/man. To improve the racing conditions, change the minimal age at which a horse can race from 2 years of age to 4 so horse can at least have a chance of staying sound of limb.

  4. Nay Rod says:

    How hypocritical, writing a book about a sport she supported. How many horse’s had she bred that ended up at the track or slaughter house? Racing does require a face lift but profiting off it is disgusting.

    1. Larry Lindner says:

      Jo Anne bred not a single horse that ended up at the slaughterhouse. She did not profit off racing. On the contrary, when she found out the truth about how Thoroughbreds are treated at the track, she gave up her legal career to save literally thousands of horses that otherwise would have gone to slaughter, losing years and years of income and working on the horses’ behalf for free — and sometimes leaving herself behind the 8-ball financially. She could potentially have won hundreds of thousands of dollars off her Secretariat granddaughter but pulled her off the track rather than subject her to the ways of racing.

      1. Connie Clauson says:

        i am thinking that all who support this are vegan. Usually these same people have no problem eating meat from factory farms, what makes one animals life more important than another. There is abuse everywhere, look at the children, look at fighting dogs, I could go on, could write a book about abuse. I train horses and find second careers or keep them as lawn ornaments. Education is the answer in all area’s.

  5. Sara says:

    What an inspiring story! So incredible what this woman is doing, and where she came from. I would love to read her book.

  6. Natasha Brenner says:

    It’s about time that attention has been brought to this horrible sport.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *